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Thursday, November 14, 2013

World Diabetes Day

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) greeted this year’s World Diabetes Day— celebrated every year on November 14 to engage people worldwide in diabetes advocacy and awareness—with an alarming warning: one in ten of the world’s population will have diabetes by 2035. 

According to the latest press release of IDF, China with 98 million, India with 65 million and the USA with 24 million have the highest number of people with diabetes. It also reports that the greatest number of people with diabetes is between 40 and 59 years of age. 

Watching youngsters—most of them returning from work in BPOs/Call centers—crowding around push-carts that are dispensing junk food and devouring the greasy-stuff at late hours of the night, that too, not one day or two but daily, I often wonder: What would happen to their  health, to their future? 

That’s not the only disturbing scene … there are also working women getting down from the busses in their anxiety to catch up with dinner time rushing to curry points …. picking up small polythene packs of curries/sambar/non-veg stuff, etc. and caressingly pushing them into their vanity bags, and slowly treading homeward….which is equally potent enough to subject them and also their family members to health hazards.

These scenes remind me of what Sir Michael Hirst, President of IDF, speaking at the International Diabetes Leadership Forum in Istanbul, Turkey, said:  “On World Diabetes Day, we must continue to increase awareness of the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity. Crucially, environments must be created that lay the foundations for healthy living”.

Now the simple question is how to make these young boys and girls crowding around these carts and those working women know that this unhealthy food is sure to make them vulnerable to diabetes—which will in turn predispose them to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke or life-threatening infections that calls for expensive treatment like bypass surgery, dialysis, even amputation.

I also know many of them are apparently from low-middle income families of villages or small towns located far off from Hyderabad… in many cases with parents back home… and no wonder if they are waiting for the remittances to be made month after month by these junk-eating wards for their maintenance… shudder to think beyond. 

Now, doctors say that diabetes tends to go undiagnosed for years. But the chronic complications of diabetes are irreversible. There is however a silver lining: they are preventable. Diabetes itself can be prevented by life style modification (LSM), say doctors. 

All that we have to do is:
  • Identify if you face a high risk of developing diabetes/pre-diabetes. But as diabetes/pre-diabetes remain asymptomatic, one has to undergo necessary laboratory tests. Of course, they do cost.
  • You can,  of course, evaluate yourself, with no cost by checking  if
    • you have family history of diabetes, 
    • you are over weight (if your Body Mass Index is above 23; BMI = Weight (in kg)/ Height (in m)2 )  
    • you are aged above 35 years
    • you have higher waist circumference 
    • you are leading a sedentary lifestyle.  
If any two of these are present, you can safely conclude that the risk of diabetes can be considered high even without a test and you should therefore start working towards a better lifestyle. Lifestyle modification is pretty simple:
  • Walking 30 minutes a day
  • Avoiding sugar, sweets and fatty foods
  • Increasing the intake of vegetables and greens
  • Reducing the intake of glycemic-rich cereals—in our case wheat preparations, to a certain extent,cater to this need
  • Over a few years, the cumulative effect of this modification reduces the risk of diabetes by 30 percent.
True, such simple practices seldom take firm rooting in one’s life. But it can be made a habit by someone from within the family constantly motivating them to stick to the schedule —but remember, never to fester…importantly, no nagging please.

Interestingly, the findings of a study published in The Lancet, a medical journal, reveals that text messages sent through cell phones acted as a good motivator and the recipients found to adhere to lifestyle modification better. So, why not use it… no personal embarrassments…and no irritations too. 

Incidentally, even organizations, particularly such as  BPOs/KPOs, etc. can certainly send such messages through their intra-office networking… at least they could warn their employees from taking such food stuff from street corners. Once people stop calling on such stalls, there is no wonder even if they change their food preparations to make them healthier… all in their anxiety to catch up with the problem of falling footprints. 

In short, we all have to join hands in creating this awareness among our own known groups. Over a period of time it is likely to spread among all. 

True it takes time, but let us start…  


Unknown said...

Very nice we blog and useful! I feel i will come back one day !

PIC Grant

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